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Saturday , February 27 2021

New power minister ‘faces’ many challenges, several pending files

Dr Al-Faris meets ministry’s assistant undersecretaries

KUWAIT CITY, Dec 21: After the recent meeting between the Minister of Electricity and Water and Minister of Oil Dr Muhammad Al-Faris and the Acting Undersecretary of the Ministry of Electricity Jassem Al- Nouri, informed sources from the ministry said Dr Al- Faris will meet the ministry’s assistant undersecretaries on Sunday in his first official meeting after assuming the electricity portfolio, reports Al-Qabas daily.

The sources explained that Al-Faris faces a number of challenges and several pending files that need quick decisions, especially since the electricity sector suffered in the last phase from suspension in resolving some of these matters under the pretext of the presence of a minister in an acting capacity.

The first of those files that need to be actively pursued by the minister to bring to an end is the file of leadership vacancies in the ministry, topped by the position of the ministry’s undersecretary, which has been occupied by assignment for several months, and then the positions for the assistant undersecretaries of customer service, water operation and maintenance, financial affairs, and administrative affairs sectors.

The sources stated that the presence of these positions on assignment was one of the obstacles in the past period, referring to a number of nominations submitted by the former minister Dr Khaled Al-Fadhel to the Civil Service Commission (CSC), adding that a question arises about whether the new minister will proceed with it or reconsider it again. They explained that the new minister, in all cases, is urgently required to settle the matter if he wants each official to bear the result of his decisions, and for the work system to be stabilized at the level of senior management in the ministry.

Another file also related to vacancies was referred to, but at the level of supervisory positions, which suffers as well. About 176 supervisory positions from the level of director to department head have been vacant since 2015 as per the periodic reports of the State Audit Bureau. The former minister began to fill these vacancies by conducting dozens of tests and interviews in the last period.

The vacancies will increase upon completion of the plan for referring those who have spent 30 years or more in service to retirement, according to the letters sent to the Public Institution for Social Security recently. This includes about 30 directors of management, in addition to a large number of other supervisory positions.

One of the files at the strategic level is currently the file for developing the ministry’s capacity at the level of energy production, which needs urgent intervention from the minister in light of the presence of many obstacles that have delayed the three most important projects in this regard. They are the projects of the power station and water distillation unit in Nuwaiseeb area as well as in Khairan, and the second and third phases of North Zour Station.

It is a file related to determining the date of exit of the South Shuaiba and East Doha stations from energy and water services in the coming years. The new minister has another file in front of him, which is the plan to prepare for next summer, both at the level of power stations, which recently witnessed several remarkable incidents, or at the level of readiness of the transmission and distribution networks, due to the importance of its association with the summer season, the high temperatures, and the severe need for energy.

Among the ministry’s projects is the smart meters project, which has witnessed a significant delay in the past months due to the regulatory authorities’ procedures, and resulted in the response of the tender for bringing 300,000 smart meters more than once. The ministry recently obtained approval of the State Audit Bureau to award the tender for importing 200,000 smart electricity meters, and the bureau is still studying the tender for about 100,000 smart water meters.

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